NASA to use unmanned aircraft to scan for signs of climate change

Washington, Jan. 18: NASA’s unmanned Global Hawk research aircraft is in the western Pacific region, aiming to track changes in the upper atmosphere and help researchers understand how these changes affect Earth’s climate.

Deployed from NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in Edwards, California, the Global Hawk landed at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam Thursday at approximately 5 p.m. EST and will begin science flights Tuesday, Jan. 21.

Its mission, the Airborne Tropical Tropopause Experiment (ATTREX), is a multi-year NASA airborne science campaign.

ATTREX will measure the moisture levels and chemical composition of upper regions of the lowest layer of Earth’s atmosphere, a region where even small changes can significantly impact climate.

Scientists will use the data to better understand physical processes occurring in this part of the atmosphere and help make more accurate climate predictions.

Studies show even slight changes in the chemistry and amount of water vapor in the stratosphere, the same region that is home to the ozone layer, which protects life on Earth from the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation, can affect climate significantly by absorbing thermal radiation rising from the surface.

ATTREX is studying moisture and chemical composition from altitudes of 55,000 feet to 65,000 feet in the tropical tropopause, which is the transition layer between the troposphere, or the lowest part of the atmosphere, and the stratosphere, which extends up to 11 miles above Earth’s surface. (ANI)